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Vegan pear frangipane tart

My mum's pear frangipane tart is a classic. Rich almondy frangipane, and soft pears, go together really well. Here, I've made a vegan version, partly by adapting Domestic Gothess's frangipane recipe. (Follow that link for lots of photos and tips on the process.)

The rich taste of frangipane is traditionally made with butter and egg. In this version, the egg is replaced by cornflour, flour and aquafaba. Aquafaba is the liquid from a tin of chickpeas (!) and can be whipped up in various ways. Here you do NOT need to whip the aquafaba, it (and the cornflour) simply help to bind the mixture around all that ground almond, plus a bit of baking powder for rise. Instead of butter, it's good to use a vegan "block" butter instead of margarine, to ensure this vegan version has a good rich impression. I used Violife, DG uses Naturli. Non-vegans can use old-fashioned butter.

You get great results using tinned pears in syrup for this tart. Apparently you can also use fresh pears, but that didn't work so well when I tried it (perhaps I should have poached them slightly first?). Anyway, a tin of pears in syrup is great for this.

Makes a single tart good for 8-10 portions.

FOR THE PASTRY:

  • 150 g plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 35 g ground almonds
  • 35 g icing (powdered) sugar, or caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100 g vegan block butter (NOT the spreadable kind), cold and diced
  • 1/2 Tbsp cold vodka (or water)

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 50 g melted vegan block butter
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 30 g plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 3 g cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 55 ml aquafaba or non dairy milk
  • 120 g ground almonds
  • 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • One tin of pears in syrup (230g pears from 410g net, 5 pear-halves)

To make the pastry: mix the flour, almonds, sugar and salt together. Add the butter, cold and diced, and rub it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then add the vodka/water, bit by bit, mixing with your fingers or a utensil until the pastry comes together in a ball. (You can also do all this in a food processor.)

Shape the pastry into a disc, wrap in clingfilm, and place in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a springform tart tin, about 9 inches / 20 cm diameter.

Take the pastry from the fridge and roll it out to a disc large enough to fill the tin and go up the sides. (If you have to roll it back into a ball and roll it out again, that's fine.) Carefully lift it into the tin. Trim off excess pastry from the top. We probably only need it to be about 1cm deep, but deeper is fine.

Prick the pastry all over the base with a fork, then blind bake it, as follows. Place a sheet of baking paper or tinfoil in that will cover the whole base. Put baking beans (or rice, lentils...) in to fill the floor of the pastry, making sure they go right to the edge. Bake this in the oven for 25 minutes, then take out the baking beans and the baking paper/foil, and return to the oven for another 5 minutes of cooking.

During that last bit of cooking, make the frangipane. Whisk together the melted vegan butter and the sugar, then the flour and cornflour, followed by the aquafaba. Finally, mix in the ground almonds, baking powder, and vanilla/almond extract. I also added some of the juice (30ml?) from the pear tin, to make the frangipane liquid enough to pour a bit more easily, and of course for a bit of flavour.

Now assemble the tart. Take the pastry base out of the oven, and arrange the pear-halves nicely in it, cut side down. I used all five pear-halves in my tin. Pour the frangipane into the gaps where the pears are not, making a nice even layer in the pastry case. Spread it out evenly.

Return to the oven and cook for 30 minutes

Leave to cool in the tins for 20 minutes before turning out. Serve with cream, plain yogurt, or something like that; the tart is delicious warm or cold. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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